There are so many and this is hard for me to limit to only three, but here goes!
1. In Florence, seek local artisans – both contemporary and traditional. While so many people come to Firenze to see the famous art (and they should) meeting people paving a new path in the city through their craft will let you appreciate this place so much more. It is fascinating to pop into small bottegas (workshops) and hear the stories of those who have so much to tell. On the contemporary side, I recommend visiting Officina Nora, Erin at Il Torchio (book-binder) and Sara Arnheim who makes the most beautiful statement necklaces. On the traditional side all you have to do is head to the Oltrarno, just down the street on via vagellei, I met Mario , from an ancient printmaking family who binds-books and recounted meeting Martha Stewart on her TV show long ago. Nearer to the Duomo, Paolo Penko’s goldsmith job is incredible to see firsthand – he uses famous artworks to inspire his beautiful creations.
2. Explore Maremma, an area of Tuscany that is quite vast but so varied. Recently I spent a weekend in Porto Ercole, a charming fishing village in Monte Argentario. It is a great area to base from the tomboli and the food here is fantastic too.
3. Give areas like Carrara a chance, this area known for its famous marble is a wonderful base for those who want to enjoy both the sea and the mountains. I did a tour in the marble caves with the most hilarious guide, Gabriele, who took us to the areas where they excavate the marble and of course we tried the delicious lardo di collonata. Nearby is the beautifully underrated Lunigiana area, which I adore. The land of so many castles and pasta I love, testaroli. 3.5. I couldn’t help myself ;-). One of the places that is quite special to my heart is the area of Monte Giovi, close to Tuscany’s town of Rufina, up seven kilometers of slightly-dubious hillside. Since it’s about 45 minutes from the center, Nico, Ginger and I like to come hike here in a place that is beyond peaceful with sweeping views and plenty of chestnuts. We typically reach the peak and come down to have lunch at the no-frills Ristorante Acone. They have a pasta dish so popular they refuse to divulge the secret recipe, don’t ask, I’ve tried – they won’t give it up.